YAKIMA, Wash. –
Spc. James Tyler Short, a combat medic with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Illinois Army National Guard, comes from a long and strong lineage of family service to the United States Military.
His great grandfather served in the Navy during World War II, his grandfather served in the Army in Vietnam, his uncle served in the Navy, and his dad, James Short, served in the Army Reserve with multiple deployments in support of the Global War on Terror. After a break in service from 2006 to 2015, Short's father raised his hand once more, this time with the Illinois Army National Guard and went immediately to Officer Candidate School. He is now a 2nd Lieutenant in the 631st Engineer Support Company from Lawrenceville, Illinois.
“I think it's a very powerful thing to serve,” said Short, “The family lineage aspect of it played a role in my decision to join. I saw the values of my family members that have, and are still serving, and I just became drawn to the ideals of the military along with the experiences that go with it.”
Short takes his job as a combat medic seriously. As he was providing support for a mortar range, the 19-year-old Pittsburg, Illinois, native said, medical support on ranges is extremely important for the safety of all Soldiers present.
He shared an instant where he was the lone medic on a range and there was no water present. He brought it to the attention of a senior leader that the range cannot officially go live until a water supply is present. His vigilance ensured the arrival of a 400-gallon M-149 water trailer within thirty minutes, and only then did the range carry on.
"Medics are on the range so that if someone were to have an injury or become a heat casualty we can have fast response to the injury,” said Short. “It's important I have the necessary resources, such as in the case of water, to effectively do my job.”
It is in situations like this that Staff Sgt. Cody Strawser, combat medic with HHC, 2-130th, and Short's acting platoon sergeant, said Short sets himself apart from other medics at his level.
“He is always reliable,” said Strawser. “I can always count on him to get the mission done. He is one of my more knowledgeable medics, willing to teach others as well as to seek out more information. He is also willing to attain higher positions and duties. It fills me with pride to see him take those active steps as a leader.” said the Hoopeston, Illinois, native.
When he's not in uniform, Short plays 13 instruments, including the flugelhorn, guitar, and ukelele. In uniform, is also a bugler for the funeral honors team.
He finds a strong connection between what drove him to be an Honor Guardsman and combat medic. For Short, it's a somber and essential duty in service of those who also swore an oath to defend their country.
“I think the highest honor someone within the military can have is presenting the military rites at a funeral for someone who has served because it is a continuation of service,” he said. “They're gone but we're here now. As one person leaves, there's another to fill the spot.”
It is the required discipline and keen attention to detail that ties them both together for Short, and he respects that. That's his drive. It ignites his motor, and it can be seen in his eyes when he talks about it.
“I want to be better than the crappy person I was yesterday, because no matter how much of a good person I was yesterday, today I can be better, never being satisfied. The moment you accept normal is the moment you become normal, and that's bad,” said Short.
As a young Soldier, Short understands he's a part of a team, and that team runs on taking care of the basics. His loyalty to the Army means he brings the same vigor to cleaning details and vehicle maintenance as he does to funeral services.
“My dad always told me as a kid, 'The moment you think you're not good enough to clean the toilet is the moment you're not good enough to lead people',” he said. “Soon as you become too good to do any task, that's when you're not deserving of any kind of role that would put you over someone.”